A Life in Politics, Print, and Power
Harper, Hardcover, 9780060798697, 576pp.
Publication Date: February 1, 2010
Like Alfred Nobel, Joseph Pulitzer is better known today for the prize that bears his name than for his contribution to history. Yet, in nineteenth-century industrial America, while Carnegie provided the steel, Rockefeller the oil, Morgan the money, and Vanderbilt the railroads, Pulitzer ushered in the modern mass media.
James McGrath Morris traces the epic story of this Jewish Hungarian immigrant's rise through American politics and into journalism where he accumulated immense power and wealth, only to fall blind and become a lonely, tormented recluse wandering the globe. But not before Pulitzer transformed American journalism into a medium of mass consumption and immense influence. As the first media baron to recognize the vast social changes of the industrial revolution, he harnessed all the converging elements of entertainment, technology, business, and demographics, and made the newspaper an essential feature of urban life. Pulitzer used his influence to advance a progressive political agenda and his power to fight those who opposed him. The course he followed led him to battle Theodore Roosevelt who, when President, tried to send Pulitzer to prison. The grueling legal battles Pulitzer endured for freedom of the press changed the landscape of American newspapers and politics.
Based on years of research and newly discovered documents, Pulitzer is a classic, magisterial biography and a gripping portrait of an American icon.
James McGrath Morris is the author of The Rose Man of Sing Sing, selected as a Washington Post Best Book of 2004. He is the editor of the monthly Biographer's Craft, and his writing has appeared in the Washington Post, the New York Observer, and other newspapers and magazines.
“James McGrath Morris has given us everything we could have asked for in his new biography of Joseph Pulitzer. Gracefully written and thoroughly researched, his biography is easily the best we have on this remarkable man who so profoundly influenced the worlds of politics and publishing.”
-David Nasaw, author of Andrew Carnegie
“An accomplished new biography. . . . Pulitzer is not its subject’s first biography. But it is by far the best at explaining Pulitzer’s St. Louis years.”
-The St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“an attractive, superbly illustrated, and gracefully written account of his subject that might well catch the attention of the Pulitzer Prize trustees.”
-The Washington Times
“Before there was Murdoch, Berlusconi, Bloomberg, or Hearst, there was Joseph Pulitzer. This epic biography, with its remarkable new research and vivid, fast-paced writing, will delight anyone who wants to understand the tangled history of politics and the press in modern America.”
-Debby Applegate, author of The Most Famous Man in America: The Biography of Henry Ward Beecher
“The name Pulitzer sheds its radiance over many celebrated writers and newspapers; now James McGrath Morris has made the famous name into a living, loving, thrusting, tumultuous—and lurid—innovator. The story has everything—murder, corruption, scandal, and high achievement. Morris’s meticulous biography takes full advantage of new material. ”
-Harold Evans, author of The American Century
“An excellent book. . . . There have been other biographies of Pulitzer, most notably W.A. Swanberg’s published in 1967, but James McGrath Morris’s is the best. It is authoritative, lucid and fair to its complicated subject.”
-Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post
“Well-researched. . . . Reads like a novel. . . . Morris paints a vivid picture, portraying his subject as an ambitious, hotheaded, at times violent, often charitable man; a perfectionist, shrewd in matters of business yet cold in matters of the heart.”
-The New York Times Book Review
“James McGrath Morris masterfully demonstrates the power of biography to reveal our past and inform our future. Deeply researched and beautifully written, Morris has written the definitive Pulitzer.”
-Kai Bird, co-author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning American Prometheus
“Everyone knows the prize, fewer the man. Here’s an antidote to the hand-wringing about the future of the newspaper, a full-scale, full-blooded biography of a penniless immigrant from Hungary who showed what newspapers could do. Seriously good history.”
-Harold Evans, The Daily Beast
“An important new biography about the early days of American newspapering in all its violent, vital, swashbuckling glory. . . . A tour de force of suspence and historical narrative. . . . Mr. Morris is a diligent sleuth.”
-The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“A major biographical success . . . . A thrilling toboggan-ride tour of history. . . . Pulitzer presents a flood of diary entries, statistics, edotirals, memoranda, and cables from its subject’s many ocean voyages. In this cavalcade of American life and letters, the pages fly by.”
-The San Francisco Chronicle